8 Dec 2015

Business confidence swings between regions

12:05 pm on 8 December 2015

Recent surveys show a great deal of regional variation in business confidence, while the rural sector is generally more positive.

Business confidence declining generic graphic

Photo: 123rf.com

A New Zealand Chambers of Commerce Business Confidence survey found it was much stronger in the north than in the south, while Rabobank's Rural Confidence Survey, completed last month, indicated farmers' confidence was still at low levels, although it was much improved from the near-decade lows seen earlier this year.

The Chambers of Commerce survey found 42 percent of businesses expected the New Zealand economy to improve over the next 12 months.

But confidence was strongest in the upper North Island at more than 44 percent, with a slip to about 34 percent in the lower South Island.

And a net two-thirds of respondents were optimistic about the outlook for their own businesses, but - once again - it slips the further south you go.

In the agricultural sector, farmers have become less pessimistic about the outlook, with the Rabobank survey showing net confidence at -6 percent, compared with the -39 percent level three months earlier, which was close to the worst in a decade.

Farmers have also turned positive about their own outlook, although dairy farmers were less confident than sheep and beef farmers, while horticulturists were by far the most buoyant.

The survey pointed to the farmers keeping a tight rein on their capital spending, with their cash earnings under pressure, forcing them to rely on the bankers for seasonal finance to get through.